What marks COVID-19 crisis out from other crises that we may have experienced is that it has been systemic. Almost nothing has been left untouched by it. Our home lives and work lives have converged, and our personal and professional concerns have often become one and the same. It has also become the catalyst of what will be one of the most challenging economic environments most of us have ever had to work in.
The study focused beyond the frequency of board meeting and its duration but more on knowing whether the boards have become more or less effective, whether the shift to virtual meetings has improve or disrupt the boardroom dynamics and how the crisis has effected decision-making and priorities.
From the study, we distilled our findings into 12 lessons learned, grouped under the 6 recurring themes that emerged from our interviews and survey: Focus, Board Information, Purpose and Stakeholders, Decision-Making, The Virtual Board and Technology.
- Lesson Learned #1: The fluff was cut, and new priorities emerged
- Lesson Learned #2: A stronger partnership was forged between the Chair and Company Secretary
- Board Information
- Lesson Learned #3: Board Information got sharper and shorter
- Lesson Learned #4: Communication had to step up
- Purpose & Stakeholder
- Lesson Learned #5: The crisis brought meaning to purpose
- Lesson Learned #6: But the benefits for stakeholders were unevenly distributed
- Decision Making
- Lesson Learned #7: CEO relished momentum to act fast
- Lesson Learned #8: Board remained a valuable check (or a brake)
- The Virtual Board
- Lesson Learned #9: Board that embraced remote meetings thrived
- Lesson Learned #10: But the board is also a social beast
- Lesson Learned #11: The Company Secretary become the Board Technology Officer
- Lesson Learned #12: The Board are not luddites after all
If we can put aside the significant impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on organisations and look simply at its impact on board effectiveness and governance, the evidence of this research suggests there have been more gains than losses. We are, for today at least, more focused, more disciplined, and more agile. Relationships are stronger and the crisis has brought home to boards the truth that business can make a difference and that stakeholders are not simply tick boxes.
To read more about The Board Report: Lessoned Learn from a Crisis, click here.